There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old monks why it was that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city. The old monk told him, "Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night. After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. "Do you understand what I have told you?" the old man said. “No,” replied the young monk. "It is simple," said the old monk, "my dog saw the rabbit."
In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about a man who, one day in the market place, saw the pearl of great price. The merchant understood at once the value of the commodity before him and he sacrificed everything to obtain it. For much of the time, we are searching for false treasures, mainly money, status and pleasure. For much of the time we are locked into a past full of nostalgia or regrets, or focused on future desires, fears or anxieties. Meanwhile the present passes us by and the treasure is still not discovered and the really valuable pearl is never found. Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is worth sacrificing all we have. He offers us God's Kingdom, a unique pearl of the greatest price. The “treasures” and “pearls” of everlasting value are the things of God. In order to attain such treasure, we must set aside our own interests, ambitions and agendas and thus free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of compassion, love and mercy of God which reconciles us to Himself. This parable also reminds us that the most precious things in life are to know God and to live according to the Gospel.
What the parables really teach us is that, when one discovers Jesus and His vision of life, everything else becomes secondary. That is what St. Paul meant when he said: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:8), and again "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 2:21). To have a personal experience of Christ and personal relationship with Him – in other words, to have made Christ’s view of life our own – is the most precious thing in the world.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is a story called, “Two Wolves.” It goes like this: A grandfather is teaching his grandson about life. A fight is
going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger,
envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and
ego. He continued, the other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other
person, too. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, which wolf will win? The
grandfather simply replied, the one you feed. Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are a mixture of good
and evil and, hence, instead of judging others we are called to try to lead exemplary Christian lives and leave the
judgment to God.
Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In us there are elements of good and elements that are
deeply opposed to it. St. Paul recognised that struggle within himself. So we need to learn how to be tolerant and
accepting of our own weaknesses. God told Paul that it was precisely through his weaknesses that He could reveal His glory. “My power is made perfect in weakness”. Just as nature teaches us patience, so God's patience also teaches us to guard the seed of His word which He has planted in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil that can destroy it. God's word brings life, but Satan seeks to destroy the good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God's word. God's judgment is not hasty, but it does come. And in the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this life. On that day God will separate the evil from the good. Do you allow God's word to take deep root in your heart? Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in your heart and in your actions?
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
on Tuesday 14th July, Monsignor Peter Meneely, Vicar General, and Mrs Lisa Forbes, his Executive Officer, met at Birkdale with the priests, school principals, Pastoral Council members and Finance Council chairs from Birkdale and Alexandra Hills Capalaba parishes to discuss the future of the region.
Currently Manly and Birkdale are separate parishes sharing an Administrator and Associate Pastor, and Alexandra Hills - Capalaba is a single parish.
Monsignor Peter spoke of future pastoral planning needs, when there may not be the same number of clergy available for parish ministry, and where parish administration costs will need to be rationalised.
He then put forward a proposal that Manly maintain its status as a separate parish and Fr Emanuel Ayankudy become the Administrator of Birkdale Parish in addition to his role as Parish Priest of Alexandra Hills Capalaba. Fr Prem Kumar would continue as Associate Pastor of Birkdale and Chaplain to the Carmel.
The proposal at this stage is for a sharing of administration, not a formal amalgamation. The meeting discussed some of the pros and cons, and participants have been asked to provide written feedback to the Archbishop.
The next step will be for a small Working Group, including members from both parishes, to be established to consider the proposal, consult with parishioners, and provide advice to the Archbishop in due course. You can also talk either to our Parish Pastoral Council members or me about your thoughts and concerns.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
As Christians we know the parable of the sower so well, however although we have heard it so many times, we can’t hear it again without being stirred. Jesus tells His disciples that the seed is the word of the Kingdom; that is, His own word, His own witness, ultimately Himself. We want to receive this Word.
Yet how well we know that we are not the perfect soil we should be! How easily we allow our hearts to become messed up by our resentments, attachments, worries or temptations, so that the hoped-for fruits of holiness are not produced as they could be!
Then also we reflect on how Jesus casts His seed in us, in order that we might continue His work in the world. So the parable of the sower is also a call to the Church, to all of us, to evangelise! Our calling is to find ways to proclaim Jesus in our own times. To communicate to people our own faith experience, itself a gift from the Holy Spirit that God exists; that He is good; that He has come to us in Jesus Christ, in order to forgive our sins, and to draw us to Himself; to give us eternal life.
One of the most effective ways we have of nurturing the seeds of the Kingdom is by coming to Mass. Here amid the assembly of the faithful we worship God in the power of the Holy Spirit. We listen to His word in Holy Scripture; we receive the sacrifice of our salvation, and meet Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. So today once again we surrender to the Lord and ask for the grace we need to connect with Him and to hear, truly see Him and understand, so that we can be enfolded by Him, and healed.
The parable of the sower challenges us to see how deeply the word of God takes root in our lives and in our day to day existence. Christ invites His followers to embrace the faith of the sower: to trust and believe that our simplest acts of kindness and forgiveness, our humble offer of help to anyone in need, our giving of only a few minutes to listen to someone’s difficult situation may be the seeds that fall “on good soil” and yield an abundant harvest.
Jesus challenges us in the parable of the sower to be both sower and seed: to sow seeds of encouragement, joy and reconciliation regardless of the ground on which it is scattered, and to imitate the seed’s total giving of life that becomes the harvest of Gospel justice and mercy. Each of us has many gifts and talents. Let us spend these doing the will of God and becoming more Christ-like. The opportunity is calling us. The parables of Jesus enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge and inspire us.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you." Dear friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us "Take my yoke upon you...and I will give you rest." We need to hear these words often these days. Life can certainly be burdensome at times. We all know this is true. However, as Christians we know the one to whom we can always turn, the Lord Jesus. He says to each of us, “come to me”.
The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ, therefore is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as His servants and subjects, and to conduct ourselves accordingly.
However, to take the yoke of Christ is to associate and identify ourselves with Him: our destiny with His destiny, our vision with His vision and our mission with His mission. Thus we are invited to understand from this context that we are not wearing the yoke alone and by our power but together with Christ and by the strength that comes from Him. It is to know that Jesus is not just a teacher who gives us instructions but also a friend who helps us to do it. We should never forget that we are yoked with Christ. He needs our feet to take Him where He is needed; our hands to bring His healing touch; our voices to speak His truth; our hearts to express His compassion and love. This is how the yoke becomes easy and the burden light.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.